Tuesday, May 11, 2010

How to Maximize Your (Unassigned) Time After the Busy Season

It’s almost a month after the busy season officially ended. Hope everybody already heaved a sigh of relief and is now going back to their after – the – busy – season mood.

Unfortunately, I’ve found out that (at least for me) the following months of non-busy season work oftentimes test my boredom threshold.

Not that I’m a workaholic or anything but shifting from a 16 – hour workday to an 8 – hour workday can sometimes make me feel like I’m floating or something. Good if I have a special job right after the busy season. That takes care of the boredom aspect.

But if I don’t have one?

I was reminded of this question when I was viewing one comment in my blog on Do You Practice URT? The 4th comment in that blog was from somebody who called himself / herself anonymous. The problem? He / she had too much nonchargeable time and he / she is concerned this might reflect poorly on his / her performance.

Okay, first of all, this is not an unusual occurrence after the busy season. If it happens to you during the busy season, that’s another matter (actually, it’s a problem but I’m not going to go through that). But after the busy season, it is normal to hear about juniors and yes, even seniors, complain that they are not assigned anywhere and they have lots of nonchargeable time.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can just sit back and relax because, hey, everybody’s going through it. I’ll be honest. If it happens to you once or twice, it’s just a case of trying to shift people, clients and schedules around. Nothing to it.

But if you find yourself constantly drumming your figures, waiting for your schedule to be filled up, then you need to take matters into your own two hands. You can’t afford to stay unassigned for long periods of time, it will not really look good. You need to keep busy and here’s how:

Take Your Vacation. If you have vacation time due to you, why not see if you can take a vacation during this unassigned period? I’m sure your manager, partner or even scheduler will accommodate your request to go one. Anyway, you don’t have a client that you’ll keep hanging while you’re away right? And it might help you to think why the heck are you getting all those unassigned hours. Maybe it might even give you the time to finally decide whether you want to stick around working in an accounting firm or whether you want to resign and just work for another company.

Shift Your Training Schedule. If you have trainings coming up (particularly when you’re in a Big 4, they provide trainings after the busy season), see if you can shift your schedule to the time when you are unassigned. Your time report will no longer show “unassigned” hours but “training” hours. Plus you get the added peace of mind from knowing nobody will suddenly pull you out from the training room just to ask you about the client.

Maximize Your Unassigned Time. Make yourself productive and maximize your (unassigned) time. Read up. Read business articles, the news, the stock market, etc. Read the alerts or updates, read the auditing standards, read the new accounting standards and read the whole IFRS (Ugh!). Yes I know they are cures for insomnia (read: you’ll fall asleep in the middle of reading them) but heck, at least your mind is gaining more knowledge (sort of). Who knows? You might impress your next manager with your new found knowledge.

If all the above failed and you still find yourself twiddling your thumbs and staring into space while waiting for your schedule to fill up, then I guess it’s time for you to do something about all those unassigned hours. And my next post will discuss just that – how to address your “unassigned” hours. Hope you’ll watch out for it. See you.


  1. If you are allocated to a client in the schedule but there are delays, would you still charge your time to the client? Because you are not technically unassigned.

    This has been happening to me. I am a new junior and I don't want to put unassigned on my timesheet when I really was assigned.

  2. Hi Anonymous. Please check out my answer in my next post. Thanks.

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